By Ally Catterick
Late Sunday evening Rwandan police confiscated a live baby gorilla, less than one year old, from poachers crossing from the DRC into Rwanda. It is believed the gorilla is a mountain gorilla.
Dr. Jan from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) received a phone call from Volcanoes National Park Chief Warden Prosper Uwingeli advising police in the town of Gisenyi had confiscated the gorilla near the border. With the baby now in the hands of veterinarians and caretakers at a facility in Kinigi, Rwanda, near the park headquarters for Volcanoes National Park, what’s happened to his family group, remains unknown.
International Gorilla Conservation Programme‘s Benjamin Mugabukomeye is in Gisenyi working with the Rwandan Development Board and other partner organisations in the ongoing investigation into how and why this young mountain gorilla ended up in the hands of poachers. The assumption at the moment is that this young gorilla was taken from the Bukima area of Virunga National Park, DRC.
Police arrested the Congolese poachers holding the infant as well as two Rwandans who were helping them. The poachers said they had captured the gorilla in the Virunga National Park, keeping him for about six days, feeding him bananas and sugar cane, until attempting to smuggle the gorilla into Rwanda. They remain in police custody.
Drs. Jan and Jean-Felix, Kinigi Orphan Caretaker Fabien and an MGVP volunteer drove to Gisenyi to pick up the gorilla. Dr. Jan said the gorilla appears to be 8 months old and strong, despite suffering from a bad cough. The gorilla was not afraid of people. Update.